Bengaluru: Hours before India's ambitious lunar mission Chandrayaan-2's soft landing on the surface of the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Thursday posted a humorous message on Twitter featuring the spacecraft's Lunar Orbiter extending good wishes to the Lander ahead of the historic moment.
"It was great travelling with you so far Vikram. Best of luck! I hope you reach the South Pole soon," the Lunar Orbiter says while releasing Lander Vikram. To this Vikram replies, "It was quite the journey indeed! I'll see you around - in the orbit."
"We have the same wishes for Vikram, Orbiter. Want to stay in touch with Vikram and Pragyan as they make their way to the untouched lunar South Pole and uncover its many mysteries? Then keep an eye out for the next edition of CY2 Chronicles!," the ISRO tweeted.
The Lander Vikram of Chandrayaan 2 is named after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the father of the Indian Space Programme. It is designed to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days. Vikram has the capability to communicate with Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu near Bangalore, as well as with the orbiter and rover.
While the Lander weighing 1,471 kg is designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface, the Rover, a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, can travel up to 500 m and it leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can only communicate with the Lander, which was separated from the orbiter on September 2 at 1.15 pm, entering a descending orbit around the Moon.
Pragyan is housed inside the Lander Vikram and it will roll out and deliver scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface experiments. The lander is expected to touch down near the South Pole of the Moon in the early hours of Saturday morning. With this, India will become the first country to land close to the lunar South Pole on its first attempt.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be at the ISRO around midnight to watch the event. Over 60 high school students across the country who cleared an online space quiz last month will watch the soft landing of the mission with the Prime Minister.
The Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft will be the first Indian expedition to carry out a soft landing on the lunar surface. This mission will make India the fourth country after the US, Russia, and China to conduct a soft landing on the moon.
After revolving around the Earth's orbit for nearly 23 days, the craft began its journey to the moon on August 14. The mission took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on July 22.
India's second mission to the moon was approved by the cabinet in September 2008, just before the launch of Chandrayaan 1.